Pack-Ice Motion in the Weddell Sea in Relation to Weather Systems and Determination of a Weddell Sea Sea-Ice Budget
As part of the Winter Weddell Sea Project 1986 (WWSP 86), a buoy, transmitting via TIROS-N satellites to Service Argos, was inserted into an ice floe in the southern Weddell Sea. Operational U.K. Meteorological Office numerical surface-pressure analyses, which utilized the buoy’s measured values of air pressure and temperature, are used to assess the impact of weather systems on pack-ice movement. The motion of the buoy is shown to be related closely to the position of the circumpolar trough and to the tracks of depressions crossing the area. The tracks of this and other buoys deployed during WWSP 86 are analysed, together with the known drifts of some ice-bound vessels, to establish the overall movement of sea ice in the central and western Weddell Sea. Using these data, the area of ice transported northward out of the Weddell Sea is determined. Roughly 60% of the winter sea-ice cover is discharged out of the area, and is replaced by new ice formation in coastal polynyas and by influx of new ice from the east. In summer, a further 30% is discharged northward out of the region, leaving 40% cover and by implication a 30% loss by melting.